The Influence of Gender in "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid Essay

The Influence of Gender in "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid Essay

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“Girl” written by Jamaica Kincaid is essentially a set of instructions given by an adult, who is assumed to be the mother of the girl, who is laying out the rules of womanhood, in Caribbean society, as expected by the daughter’s gender. These instructions set out by the mother are related to topics including household chores, manners, cooking, social conduct, and relationships. The reader may see these instructions as demanding, but these are a mother’s attempt, out of care for the daughter, to help the daughter to grow up properly. The daughter does not appear to have yet reached adolescence, however, her mother believes that her current behavior will lead her to a life of promiscuity. The mother postulates that her daughter can be saved from a life of promiscuity and ruin by having domestic knowledge that would, in turn also, empower her as a productive member in their community and the head of her future household. This is because the mother assumes that a woman’s reputation and respectability predisposes the quality of a woman’s life in the community.
The mother inherently concludes that there are only two types of women: respectable women and “sluts.” Through the entire story, the mother ofttimes implicates the daughter of being bent on becoming a “slut.” Her suspicion doesn’t appear to be aggravated by the daughter’s behavior. The daughter resembles good behavior this is shown by her first input in the story, “but I don’t sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school” (171). That is a response to her mother’s question, “is it true that you sing benna in Sunday school?” (171). Which was followed by the mother’s instruction that her daughter not sing benna in Sunday school.
Throughout the story, the primary phrase,...


... middle of paper ...


...ughter to realize that she is “not a boy” (171) and that she needs to act like a lady. Doing so will win the daughter the respect from the community that her mother wants for her.
“The slut youre bent on becoming” and other variations of the line reoccur throughout the text and may be one of the seemingly obvious expressions that propounds the mother’s ramification with the system and illustrates her efforts to shape a daughter who performs her instructions appropriately.



Works Cited

Fisher, Jerilyn, and Ellen S. Silber. Women in Literature: Reading Through the Lens of Gender. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2003. Print.
Bailey, Carol. "Performance and the Gendered Body in Jamaica Kincaid's "girl" and Oonya Kempadoo's Buxton Spice." Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism. 10.2 (2011): 106-123. Print.
http://www.sparknotes.com/short-stories/girl/themes.html

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